Tag: greater washington

Watch Putting Racism on the Table | A Case Study: Mass Incarceration

PUTTING RACISM ON THE TABLE/WRAG
The fourth video in the Putting Racism on the Table series is now live! The video features James Bell, J.D., founder and executive director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, discussing mass incarceration and how structural racism, white privilege, and implicit bias coalesce in the criminal justice system. After you’ve had a chance to view the video, we encourage you to share your thoughts via Twitter using the hashtag #PuttingRacismOnTheTable, or by commenting on WRAG’s Facebook page. We also suggest checking out the viewing guide and discussion guide to be used with the video. Both can be found on our website.

HOUSING/PHILANTHROPY | Noting the perceived roadblocks to affordable home ownership for low-income residents, WRAG president Tamara Lucas Copeland calls for philanthropy to seed an X Prize to spur innovation in the housing field. (Daily, 6/1)

HOMELESSNESS/DISTRICT | The D.C. Council has unanimously passed a revised version of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s homeless shelter plan. (WCP, 5/31)

HEALTH
– One paragraph that puts the white-black life expectancy gap in (horrifying) context (Vox, 5/31)

Related: Dr. David Williams, quoted in the above article, provided the keynote speech at WRAG’s 2015 Annual Meeting in a presentation titled, “The House that Racism Built.” You can view his presentation here.

– Preliminary numbers compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2015 show a reversal in a years-long decline in American death rates. A rise in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, drug use, firearms, hypertension and stroke, injuries, and suicides are among reasons for the uptick. (WaPo, 6/1)

EDUCATION/EQUITY Reports: Homeless, foster kids face enormous hurdles in trying to get to college (WaPo, 6/1)


Could you have taken home the top prize in the recent National Geographic Bee’s final round? 

-Ciara

Do we need an X Prize to address affording housing in high-cost areas? Yes!

by Tamara Copeland
President
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

My father owned a small real estate business. He used to say that real estate was the best investment because you could live in it, borrow against it, or rent it out. I learned this lesson about asset building as a child. And still today, home ownership continues to be the largest investment that most people make. The asset of a home is one of the enduring symbols of having achieved the American dream. Those who own a home are rewarded through tax credits unavailable to non-home owners. The owned home is the source of funds that allows many people to send their children to college, and while all the votes aren’t in yet regarding the pros and cons of reverse mortgages, the home seems to be how some will support their retirement.

Yet far too many people are financially unable to purchase a home – this core to asset building. So, I am a bit surprised when those of us committed to social justice reform aren’t focused more on home ownership. I wanted to find out why. I talked with bankers, developers, and housing advocates. “The federal government used to subsidize the development of affordable houses,” one banker told me. “When they stopped, building these properties wasn’t practical.”  “What about condos?” I asked when a developer told me that land was just too expensive in our region. “We can’t depend on lower-income people being able to pay the condo fee,” was his response. No matter where I asked, roadblocks were the answer.

I refuse to believe that the American ingenuity that led to inventing the automobile, putting the first human on the moon, and building the internet can’t solve this problem. It just takes smart people focused on smart new solutions. What would happen if experts on land use joined with architects and builders, housing policy wonks, financiers, and community organizers to figure out how to produce affordable houses for low-income people in the Greater Washington region? What would it take to get people from various disciplines to actually come together? It has to be more than the basic principle of creating diverse housing stock to meet the housing needs of diverse income brackets. That reason hasn’t worked so far. What would catalyze such a conversation?

I think it would take an X Prize.

I believe that the simple act of enabling affordable home ownership in the Greater Washington region has to be seen as a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, and that a large sum of money has to be put on the table for an innovative team to solve it. We like to celebrate the number of people with advanced degrees who live in our region. We talk a lot about our knowledge economy. Nineteen institutions of higher learning are located here. And, I recently attended a meeting at which this region was touted as being more entrepreneurial than Silicon Valley based on the number of new ventures birthed here. We have the knowledge and we have the need. We can be a model for the country. Our problem is not unique.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this need rests within a larger sphere of need for affordable housing, including more affordable rental units. In fact, WRAG is already working to try to address it. But even housing advocates, were stunned to learn from an Urban Institute study last year that “not a single county in the United States has enough affordable housing for all of its extremely low-income renters.” Here in the Greater Washington region, where rental costs are soaring, we knew this reality. But certainly, we thought, someone, somewhere, had figured this out. No one has.

What a tremendous boost for the country it would be for the affordable housing challenge, both home ownership and the production and preservation of affordable rental units, to be solved right here in the nation’s capital.

Who will incentivize this work? Who can fund an X Prize? Philanthropy can.

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments releases new annual report on homelessness in the region

HOMELESSNESS/REGION
Though there were a number of reports over the last few months that pointed toward disappointing numbers, newly-released results from the annual point-in-time homelessness count found that the Greater Washington region saw a 2.7 percent decrease in homelessness from last year. Despite the slight drop, there is still much room for improvement. (WaPo, 5/13)

The tally, released Wednesday, confirmed a continued crisis of homelessness in the Washington region evident to almost anyone who lives, works or visits the city’s downtown core during winter, when homeless men and women amass in entrances to Metro stops and many other spots where they can stay warm. It also may have understated the challenge still faced by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who has vowed to end chronic homelessness in the city.

Much of the overall dip resulted from a 300-person drop in homeless parents and children in D.C. shelters on the night of the count.

But unlike last year, when the number of homeless families peaked near the date of the 2014 federal count, this year several hundred entered shelter or were placed in overflow motel rooms in the District throughout February, March and even early April.

[…]

Beyond the District, numbers of homeless families also surged this winter in the city of Alexandria and in Fairfax, Frederick and Montgomery counties. Given that trend, few on Wednesday celebrated the slight decrease in the total from last year’s count.

The data comes from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments new annual report, Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington.

–  D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger spoke on the District’s own six percent decrease in homeless residents, stating that a celebration of the results would be too premature, “because there are still far too many people [who are homeless.] (City Paper, 5/13) 

Southeast D.C. facility for homeless veterans gets a boost (WaPo, 5/13)

WRAG/PHILANTHROPY | Interested in following the conversation from WRAG’s first-ever Loudoun County Philanthropy Conference? Check out the hashtag #FundLoudoun on Twitter to see what panelists and participants are saying.

NONPROFITS | Next month, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, in partnership with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, will hold a new, four-part communications series/training for leaders of nonprofits based in or serving residents of wards 7 or 8. The multi-day training seeks to help organizations strengthen their voices and raise awareness about issues affecting residents east of the river. For more information on how to register, click here.

POVERTY
Opinion: A number of emerging new studies are examining the long-term effects of government programs like the earned-income tax credit, Medicaid, SNAP, and more, on families. Though data can only go back so far, there is evidence that children whose families received benefits have better outcomes as they enter their 20s and 30s than those whose families were denied benefits. (NYT, 5/11)

Obama Urges Liberals and Conservatives to Unite on Poverty (NYT, 5/12)


How well can you read the emotions of others? Sometimes it’s all in the eyes! Take this quiz to see if you can tell what these people are thinking.

– Ciara

Are you (yes, you!) ready to Give to the Max?

Mark your calendars! Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington is November 9th, 2011!

What is Give to the Max Day? It’s a one-day online giving event aimed at getting tens of thousands of people (that means you, your friends, your family, and that annoying office worker who leaves dirty dishes in the sink) to support their favorite nonprofits and causes. The goal? Raising more than $3 million in donations and grants for nonprofits across the Greater Washington region in just 24 hours.

At the press announcement last week, we asked Terri Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Bill Hanbury, CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area, to talk about why they’re excited about Give to the Max Day.

Learn more – and spread the word!

Give to the Max: Greater Washington
Rules (and Awards!)
Frequently Asked Questions
For WRAG members: Special webinar on what you can do as grantmakers (Sept. 26)

Hot off the press:

Nonprofits to try to raise millions in one day (Washington Post, 9/16)
Razoo plans fundraising campaign for D.C.-area nonprofits (Washington Business Journal, 9/16)


Give to the Max Day is led by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the United Way of the National Capital Area, and Razoo, and supported by the 8 Neighbors coalition – The Center for Nonprofit Advancement, The Community Foundation, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Leadership Greater Washington, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Nonprofit Roundtable, United Way, and WRAG.